Who are the women behind the Belgian brand Collectors Club? “We go straight to the goal” – fashion

Belgian fashion has a top international reputation. Nevertheless, one in five Belgians cannot name a label from their own country. Every day during Belgian Fashion Week we put a Belgian designer in the spotlight. Today: Founder Nele Van Doorslaer and designer Virginia Visan from the Collectors Club.

After years of experience in her own shops, Nele Van Doorslaer founded her own brand together with her sister Veerle: Collectors Club. A world inspired by design, contemporary art and inspiring women. Together with the creativity of designer Virginia Visan, the timeless line is now a success in the Benelux countries and beyond. Nele and Virginia tell the story behind the brand.

Virginia: “We started with our name: Collectors Club. What kind of club did we want to start? Which women did we want to reach with our product? Each collection is inspired by a legendary woman from history. Someone with a different style, a different mindset, or with inspiring work. The profile of these women is a starting point. In the past we were influenced by the writer Anaïs Nin, who became known for her diaries and the color palette of the painter Elisabeth Peyton. In the future we want to reach a wider audience. ‘

Nele: ‘We want to bring creative people together with our brand, hence the word’ club ‘. Our clothing is timeless and seasonal. All parts of a collection can be combined with one another. We manufacture as far as possible in Europe. Our fabrics come partly from Japan and partly from Italy. We think it is important to closely monitor the price-performance ratio. ‘

Virginia: ‘The Japanese fabrics are made with very old looms. This allows you to develop interesting textures in the fabrics. How a certain fabric feels is very important to us. ‘

Some outfits from the Collectors Club © Alexander Popelier

Nele: “My sister and I have been in retail for eleven years. The Collectors Club was the icing on the cake. The introduction of my own brand was enormously instructive. We started small with projects in our own stores. It went smoothly and sold well. It is a blessing to be able to work together as sisters. We sometimes have disagreements but never serious discussions. We are each other’s soundboard. Now we’ve parted a little more because it has become a lot: six stores and a growing line of our own. Now I mainly work in the Collectors Club and in our A Suivre stores. ‘

Virginia: “I ended up in the Collectors Club through a mutual friend. I received a call that Nele was looking for a designer. At that moment I had just stopped at Bruno Pieters’, the timing was perfect. At the time, there was no clear DNA for the brand. We looked for it together. Quite a challenge, but that’s what I was looking for. I like to be involved at all levels of the process. ‘

No rose fragrance and moonlight

Nele: ‘The commercial landscape is not a rose fragrance and moonlight. I think everyone in the industry knows that. But – hold on to wood – we haven’t had any unpleasant surprises. The fashion industry is a very challenging industry, but we are happy to accept this challenge. I would like to put the brand on the map even more internationally. ‘

Collectors Club, Alexander Popelier
Collectors Club © Alexander Popelier

Virginia: “I think I’m lucky my husband is creative too. My family has always supported my choices in life. Family is the most important thing in life. Sometimes it is difficult to find a balance between work and personal life. When people around you do the same, there is more understanding. Unfortunately, my family is not that creative, the focus is mainly on economics and finance. ‘

Nele: “My family is also entrepreneurial, but not really creative. Through the Collectors Club, I discovered that creative triggers me enormously. It gives me energy to be surrounded by creative people. Nevertheless, there is always too little time. I have four children and a solid family. My husband also works hard and is overseas often so a search is sometimes required. We are well organized so that the children don’t really suffer from the energy we put into our work. We are also a social couple. My husband and I enjoy going out for a drink or going out with friends. Corona and the lockdown were a good way to think about the roller coaster we live in. A moment to return to the essence, our family. ‘

Collectors Club, Alexander Popelier
Collectors Club © Alexander Popelier

Nele: “Don’t look back and carry on. I am an eternal optimist. I was already as a child. When my parents went to a parents’ meeting, they always said I was a fool but the sunshine in the house. I am of the YOLO principle you only live once. We strive for a goal, through trial and error, but always straight. I am a great guy too. My husband often tells me to think twice before I say anything, but maybe that’s just my attraction (laughs). ‘

Virginia: “It doesn’t matter what happens, but what you do with it. I read this advice in a book once. Maybe that’s why Nele and I get along so well. When something happens, she immediately focuses on a solution. I think that’s a good attitude. It always goes wrong. ‘

Left: Nele Van Doorslaer, right: Virginia Visan, photographed by Bruno Pieters, photo R.V.
Left: Nele Van Doorslaer, right: Virginia Visan, photographed by Bruno Pieters © Foto R.V.

IN SHORT: NELE VAN DOORSLAER AND VIRGINIA VISAN

Are inspired by …

Nele: The story of Isabel Marant. Starting out with a t-shirt collection and building such an empire is fantastic. ‘

Virginia: ‘Dries Van Noten is one of my favorites with his classic approach to fashion. He’s so focused and good at what he’s doing. It is impossible to ignore it. I also find streetwear and people on the street very inspiring. I’m following Karen Blanchard, a British vlogger who lives in New York. She has a series “What Everyone Wears in New York” and follows people with interesting outfits. You discover the person behind the outfit. Super inspiring. ‘

Shop …

Nele: “I rarely do that in Belgium because my closet is full of clothes from our store, so to speak. For accessories, I sometimes go to Louise 54 in Brussels or Graanmarkt 13 in Antwerp. I always stop by Patricia Vintage in Ghent to look for a nice vintage accessory. I actually shop more for my children. I can surrender to that. ‘

Virginia: ‘It’s a paradox that we’re not really buyers ourselves, I think (laughs). You’re more likely to find me in a bookstore. I always go to Copywright in Antwerp to see if there is anything new. Even so, I still hold onto two favorites: Orhan Pamuk met The Museum of Innocence and Children only by Patti Smith. I am currently reading your collection of short stories dedication. I like their writing style. Pure sincerity and honesty. ‘

Drink in …

Virginia: ‘Normo in Antwerp. This is my favorite cafe. ‘

Nele: “I like to have a cocktail in the pharmacy in Knokke. This is an excursion that I do alone every year Wish list Move. A solid moment with my husband. ‘

Eating in …

Nele: “The Mouse Dog, one of my favorite restaurants in Kortrijk. You eat in the living room of a vintage farm. It’s a very personal affair with a classic kitchen. The best Steak au poivre made in the traditional way, passed down from generation to generation. I love that. There are a lot of new cuisines and mergers these days. That’s all nice, but for me the authentic can still be there. ‘

Virginia: My favorite is Siam Sally. they do Street food from Thailand and is super tasty. You discover the restaurant through a small corridor, through a garage and finally end up in a kind of oasis. ‘

Travel to…

Nele: ‘Paris. I live in Kortrijk, so I’ll be in Paris in an hour and twenty minutes. My husband and I do this regularly. Sit down in Les Deux Magots and watch inspiring people take to the streets. Visit an exhibition or take a long walk. I love it. ‘

Virginia: “My best friend lives in Copenhagen. I’ve been there regularly over the past few years. I like the atmosphere. The last time I was there, we visited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It is just outside of Copenhagen in a very nice location right by the sea. The art collection they show there is also impressive. ‘

After years of experience in her own shops, Nele Van Doorslaer founded her own brand together with her sister Veerle: Collectors Club. A world inspired by design, contemporary art and inspiring women. Together with the creativity of designer Virginia Visan, the timeless line is now a success in the Benelux countries and beyond. Nele and Virginia tell the story behind the brand. Virginia: We started with our name: Collectors Club. What kind of club did we want to start? Which women did we want to reach with our product? Each collection is inspired by a legendary woman from history. Someone with a different style, a different mindset, or with inspiring work. The profile of these women is a starting point. In the past we were influenced by the writer Anaïs Nin, who became known for her diaries and the color palette of the painter Elisabeth Peyton. In the future we want to reach a wider audience. ‘Nele:’ With our brand, we want to bring creative people together, hence the word ‘club’. Our clothing is timeless and seasonal. All parts of a collection can be combined with one another. We manufacture as far as possible in Europe. Our fabrics come partly from Japan and partly from Italy. We think it is important to closely monitor the price-performance ratio. ‘Virginia:’ The Japanese fabrics are made with very old looms. This allows you to develop interesting textures in the fabrics. How a certain fabric feels is very important to us. ‘Nele:’ My sister and I have been in retail for eleven years. The Collectors Club was the icing on the cake. The introduction of my own brand was enormously instructive. We started small with projects in our own stores. It went smoothly and sold well. It is a blessing to be able to work together as sisters. We sometimes have disagreements but never serious discussions. We are each other’s soundboard. Now we’ve parted a little more because it has become a lot: six stores and a growing line of our own. Now I’m mostly in the Collectors Club and they work in our A Suivre stores. ‘Virginia:’ I ended up in the Collectors Club through a mutual friend. I received a call that Nele was looking for a designer. At that moment I had just stopped at Bruno Pieters’, the timing was perfect. At the time, there was no clear DNA for the brand. We looked for it together. Quite a challenge, but that’s what I was looking for. I like to be involved at all levels of the process. ‘Nele:’ The commercial landscape is not a rose fragrance and moonlight. I think everyone in the industry knows that. But – hold on to wood – we haven’t had any unpleasant surprises. The fashion industry is a very challenging industry, but we are happy to accept this challenge. I would like to put the brand on the map even more internationally. ‘Virginia:’ I think I’m happy that my husband is a creative person too. My family has always supported my choices in life. Family is the most important thing in life. Sometimes it is difficult to find a balance between work and personal life. When people around you do the same, there is more understanding. Unfortunately, my family is not that creative, the focus is mainly on economics and finance. ‘Nele:’ My family is also entrepreneurial, but not really creative. Through the Collectors Club, I discovered that creative triggers me enormously. It gives me energy to be surrounded by creative people. Nevertheless, there is always too little time. I have four children and a solid family. My husband also works hard and is overseas often so a search is sometimes required. We are well organized so that the children don’t really suffer from the energy we put into our work. We are also a social couple. My husband and I enjoy going out for a drink or going out with friends. Corona and the lockdown were a good way to think about the roller coaster we live in. A moment to return to the essence, our family. “Nele:” Don’t look back and move on. I am an eternal optimist. I was already as a child. When my parents went to a parents’ meeting, they always said I was a fool but the sunshine in the house. I’m from the YOLO principle, you only live once. We strive for a goal, through trial and error, but always straight. I am a great guy too. My husband often tells me to think twice before I say anything, but maybe that’s just my attraction (laughs). Virginia: “It doesn’t matter what happens, what you do with it. I read this advice in a book once. Maybe that’s why Nele and I get along so well. When something happens, she immediately focuses on a solution. I think that’s a good attitude. It always goes wrong. ‘